«Town of Samaritans» and the «Samaritan City», according to popular history, San Lorenzo was given this nicknames of the «Town of Samaritans» in the early decades of the 20th century. According to news reports and testimony from residents, around 1920 many people came to the mountains in the Hato sector of the municipality to see a young woman named Julia Vázquez Torres. She cured people using home remedies made from medicinal plants, minerals, and water from a well. It was said that she was very generous with the needy. People began calling her the «Samaritan of San Lorenzo,» a name that was generalized to all the residents of the municipality.
The patron saints of the town are Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes and San Lorenzo, for whom the town is named. It covers a territory of 53 square miles (137.3 square kilometers). The population is 40,997 (2000 Census). The municipal territory is divided into the sectors of San Lorenzo Pueblo, Cayaguas, Cerro Gordo, Espino, Florida, Hato, Jagual, Quebrada, Quebrada Arenas, Quebrada Honda and Quemados.
The economy of San Lorenzo mainly revolves around manufacturing. Clothing, leather shoes, and electronic equipment are produced there. In agriculture, raising livestock and growing fruit are also important economic activities.
San Lorenzo is located in the eastern part of Puerto Rico. It is bordered on the north by the municipality of Gurabo, on the east by Juncos and Las Piedras, on the west by Caguas and on the south by Patillas and Yabucoa. This municipality is part of the geographic region called the Caguas interior valley, although in the southeast part there are some of the higher elevations of the Cayey range, which is part of the eastern humid mountains. In the east and southeast is La Santa ridge, which rises to an elevation of 2,962 feet (903 meters) above sea level. It is the highest point in the Cayey range.
To the west are the Honoré and Nuestra Madre peaks with elevations of 2,772 feet (845 meters) and 2,460 feet (750 meters ) above sea level, respectively. To the south is El Cabro peak at 2,132 feet (650 meters) in elevation and to the east are the Gregorio peak at 2,106 feet (642 meters ), the Piedra Reinada peak at 1,673 feet (510 meters ) and the Santa Ana peak at 1,181 feet (360 meters) above sea level. Finally, in the center of the municipality of San Lorenzo is Piedra Blanca, at 1,066 feet (325 meters) in elevation.
The hydrological system of the municipality consists of the Grande de Loíza River, which forms in the Espino sector and crosses the municipality from north to south, and the Emajagua and Cayaguas rivers, which are approximately nine miles long. There are also the Adentro, Blas, Puerca, Arenas and Salvatierra streams.
The south-southeast part of the Espino sector, the area of San Lorenzo with the highest elevations, forms part of the Carite Forest. The forest is shared with Caguas, Cayey, Guayama, Patillas and Yabucoa. The forest is in the most mountainous part of the municipality in the Espino sector. The municipality also has some mineral resources, as small deposits of iron have been found.
Journals from the middle of the 18th century document the existence of San Miguel de Hato Grande, which is today San Lorenzo. The territory was located to the southeast of the Caguas valley, north of the central mountain range, and east of the Grande de Loíza River.
In this region in the late 18th century, there was a site on a ranch owned by Valeriano Muñoz de Oneca that was known as Hato Grande. A chapel devoted to San Miguel had been built there. In the early 19th century, Muñoz de Oneca donated forty cuerdas of land for the founding of a town. This is considered the beginning of San Lorenzo.
Documents show that in 1811 Juan Rodríguez Calderón served as mayor of the settlement and that there were two companies of urban militia. By 1812, a church had been built in the settlement and San Lorenzo had been adopted as patron saint.
Historians disagree about the exact date the town was founded because of a fire that occurred in the city hall in 1837, which destroyed official documents. Coll y Toste suggests that it was founded in 1811 and other scholars, such as Generoso E. Morales Muñoz, say that San Lorenzo was founded between March of 1813 and April of 1814, and prior to 1813 it was part of the town of Caguas.
In that era, the economy of San Lorenzo was based on raising livestock. Coffee, tobacco, corn and fruits were also grown. Later, cultivation of sugar cane began. By 1830, the municipality was producing a wealth of timber, including oak, laurel, balata and carob trees, among others. In 1878, San Lorenzo consisted of the sectors of Cayaguas, Cerro Gordo, Espino, Florida, Hato, El Jagual, Quemados, Quebrada Arenas, Quebrada Honda and San Lorenzo Pueblo.
In the early 20th century, San Lorenzo was an important producer of tobacco. There were 140 tobacco farms. In the 1980s, 23 manufacturing facilities promoted by the Economic Development Administration of Puerto Rico were established in San Lorenzo, among which were factories making military clothing. Beef and dairy cattle were also raised.
Currently, plantains are the main crop, in addition to growing other fruits and raising cattle and pigs. Manufacturing continues to be the main economic activity in San Lorenzo today.
The flag of San Lorenzo consists of four yellow rectangles of equal size. The upper right and lower left have three red horizontal bands of equal width. The flag alludes to the coat of arms of the Muñoz family, the lineage from which the founder of the town, Valeriano Muñoz de Oneca, came. This flag was officially adopted on September 5, 1972.
Coat of Arms
The San Lorenzo coat of arms is gold and red. These are the colors of the seal of the Muñoz lineage, from which the founder of the town, Valeriano Muñoz de Oneca, came. The grid is the traditional symbol of San Lorenzo, deacon, martyr and patron saint of the town. The mountain symbolizes the Gregorio peak, which dominates the view in San Lorenzo. The cross with pommels is one of the heraldic attributes of San Miguel Arcángel. The crowned wall is the symbol of towns and municipalities.
Hon. José R. Román Abreu
Places of Interest
• La Santa Peak
• San Carlos cockfighting ring
• Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes church
• La Marina Bridge
• Quintana Ranch
• Priscila Flores Theater
José Tous Soto – Lawyer and senator.
Elmer Figueroa Arce «Chayanne» – Singer and actor.
Generoso Morales Muñoz – Historiographer and journalist.
Priscila Flores «La Alondra de San Lorenzo» – Folk music singer.
Carmita Jiménez – Singer.
Ernestina Reyes Vásquez «La Calandria» – Folk music singer and composer
Antonio Fernós Isern – Physician and politician First resident commissioner after the creation of the Commonwealth.
María E. Machín – Member of prestigious civic and professional institutions.
• Three Kings Concert – January
• Moncho Roldán Parade – January
• Candelaria Festival – February
• Kite Festival – March
• Festival of the Cross – May
• La Virgen de las Mercedes Patron Saint Festival – September
• Lace and Embroidery Festival – September
• Passion Fruit Festival – November
Text taken from enciclopediapr.org
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